Tom Dumoulin admitted before Tirreno-Adriatico that losing 25 seconds or more in the opening team time trial would probably end his chance of overall victory in the week-long stage race. While not happy with Team Sunweb's third place, 22 seconds behind Mitchelton-Scott and 15 down on Jumbo-Visma, the Dutchman was pleased to still be in contention and ready to race aggressively in the number of steep uphill finishes later in the race.
"Third, it's good, not perfect. It's a good start and we're, I won't say happy with it, but satisfied," Dumoulin said as he warmed down on the rollers, seeing Team Sunweb's glass half full rather than half empty.
As team leader and former world time trial champion, Dumoulin took on extra responsibility during Team Sunweb's ride. He did longer turns on the front, leading and inspiring his teammates. Chad Haga brought Team Sunweb home, with Dumoulin second, Søren Kragh Andersen and Sam Oomen also finishing in the same time. Nicolas Roche, Rob Power and Nikias Arndt finished a little further behind after doing their work earlier in the 21.5km team time trial. The team also used the new Cervelo P5 bike that was revealed to the public on Tuesday.
"We rode it really good. We had a completely different team than at the UAE Tour, a couple of guys the same and others different," Dumoulin said. "Team time trials are always tricky. We made a couple of small mistakes, maybe losing five seconds here and there, but not 22 or 15."
Dumoulin is now 22 seconds down on overall rival Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and 15 down on Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), but he gained 15 seconds on Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 25 seconds on Geraint Thomas and Wout Poels (Team Sky), 36 seconds on Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and 48 seconds on Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). Other riders are even further down, such was the impact and importance of the team time trial.
"Yates and Roglic are the two in front of me now so they are definitely the guys to watch," Dumoulin said. "There are probably a few guys close behind us, too, so we'll just see how it goes."
Dumoulin is known for his aggressive racing, even in stage races, and he confirmed he is racing to win in Italy. Team Sunweb remain the only WorldTour team yet to win a race in 2019. Dumoulin knows he will have to fight for the 10, six and four second time bonuses on each stage and then hope to gain some extra seconds in the final 10km time trial stage in San Benedetto del Tronto next Tuesday.
"If I'm in good shape I like to race, definitely," he said "I'm here to at least try to win Tirreno, so we'll see how it goes."